What Marketers Must Learn from the Direct-to-Consumer Disruption

The World is Changing and Taking Customer Expectations Along with It

By: Cynthia Janelli, Lead Customer Experience Consultant & Julie Beggs, Director Strategy & Analytics

Let’s face it, marketers see trends come and go all the time. The boom in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands could be one of the next trends to fade away. But the leaders in this space are doing great things. And legacy brand marketers should take note. 

The 2019 Forrester Consumer Forum took a deep dive into the DTC disruption. Melissa Parrish, Vice President and Group Director at Forrester, recommended marketers break down the success of DTC to pinpoint the components that are resonating most with consumers.

Parrish kicked off the forum by highlighting that all business strategies start with the customer. The challenge for brand marketers is keeping pace with evolving customer needs, desires and expectations. 

Direct-to-Consumer Brands Built on Traditional Consumer Expectations

Our favorite quote from this year’s Forum was from Ryan Skinner, Senior Analyst at Forrester: 

“It’s a glorious time to be a lazy shopper.” 

Of course, consumers haven’t really grown lazy. They’re just embracing this new world of always-on consumer experiences with purchasing power at their fingertips. These new experiences, especially via DTC, are challenging brands to redefine how they provide value to consumers. 

Forrester gave three reasons why customers are so happy to engage with DTC brands:

  1. Convenience 
  2. Trust
  3. Quality

Legacy brands will tell you that these qualities aren’t anything new. The change is in how consumers are evaluating brands. They now hold the key in telling brands if their offerings feel valuable.  

Legacy brands need to think differently about how they provide value and adjust to how customers want to engage. Here’s how Forrester highlights this shift:  

Convenient brands anticipate consumer needs. Convenience used to be represented by a local store stocking a desired product. Consumers can now purchase nearly anything they could ever want at any time from anywhere. Today, convenience means personalized experiences built on the unique terms of individual consumers.

Trusted brands are transparent and empathetic. Trust was once defined by company size, commercials, legacy and often times limited alternatives. Trust is now symbolized by creative entrepreneurs who found brands because of frustrations with existing brands. The new definition incorporates transparency, empathy and a mission to disrupt for the sake of better consumer experiences.  

High-quality brands deliver superior customer service to their “community.” Quality used to mean products and functions that outlasted other brands. Today’s high-quality brands must deliver superior customer service and cultivate connections and community with individual customers. 

Customers will likely always go to brands that provide them with convenience, quality and trust. The lift for marketers is staying ahead of the continually changing definitions for these terms. Brands must now move beyond their traditional transactional value and establish authentic relationships with individual consumers

Marketers Must Create Authentic Relationships with Individual Consumers 

What can you do as a marketer to ensure your organization delivers this new kind of “value” for consumers?  

In this brave new world, Skinner says marketers must:  

  • Get value to customers more directly  
  • Learn how customers relate to value  
  • Deliver more value 

To deliver this redefined value, marketers must start by listening to individual consumers at scale. This listening will uncover signals for spotting when an individual is ready to experiment with your brand. Marketing platforms can then message these individuals with the right content once they reach this threshold of intent. 

Zeta’s platform captures these individual consumer signals, allowing marketers to anticipate consumer needs and engage accordingly. We empower clients to make individual connections at scale. Our data cloud, AI and dynamic messaging work together to engage real people in real time who are ready to connect with your brand. 

To learn how your brand can benefit from elevated customer experiences with Zeta’s Data Cloud platform, visit Zeta Global or contact us now.


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